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Zec 8:1 Again the word of the LORD of hosts came [to me], saying,
Ver. 1. Again the word of the Lord of hosts ] As for reprehension in the former chapter, so for consolation in this; that they might not be discouraged, or say, as once they did, There is no hope; but lifting up the hands which hung down, and the feeble knees, they might go on to lay the last stone with joy. To which end also no less then eighteen different times in this one chapter God is styled the Lord of hosts; that, resting upon God’s power and goodness (whereof they are assured by many precious promises), as upon the Jachin and Boaz, the two main pillars of a Christian’s faith, they might have strong consolation.
Came to me ] See Trapp on " Zec 7:8 "
Zec 8:2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.
Ver. 2. I was jealous for Zion ] See Trapp on " Zec 1:14 " Jealous as a husband, zealous as a loving father; for, Non amat qui non zelat, He does not love who does not ardently low, saith Augustine; and a father being rebuked by some for his exceeding forwardness for his friend, answered, Ego aliter amare non didici, I know not how to love any otherwise than earnestly. God, therefore, to ascertain his people of the truth of the ensuing promises, and to cure their unbelief, lets them know that all this he will do for them of his free grace without their having deserved it. As at first he loved them merely because he loved them, Deuteronomy 7:7-8 ; so, out of the same love, he will bestow upon them all the good things here mentioned. See the like Isaiah 9:6-7 , where, after a sweet description of Christ, his kingdom and benefits, he concludes all with "The zeal" (that is, the tender love and free grace) "of the Lord of hosts will perform this. Fear ye not." So 2 Samuel 7:21 "For thy word’s sake," that is, for thy Christ’s sake, "and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these things" which thou hadst promised. "According to thine own heart," that is, ex mero motu, out of pure and unexcited love, or zeal, which is the top of all the affections and the heat of the heart.
Zec 8:3 Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.
Ver. 3. I am returned unto Zion ] After a long absence, as it may seem by the late troubles, and that dismal dispersion, Zechariah 7:14 . God was gone aside and returned to his place, till they should acknowledge their offence and seek his face: In their affliction, said he, they will seek me early. Neither was he frustrated, as appeareth, Hosea 5:15 ; cf. Hosea 6:1 . Come, and let us return unto the Lord, say they. Do so, and then I will come again unto you as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth, with a cornucopia of peace, plenty, and prosperity. Neither this only will I do as a stranger in the land, or as a wayfaring man, that tarrieth for a night,
But I will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem ] My shechinah, or settled habitation, shall be in the midst of it, sc. in my temple there situated, Jeremiah 14:8 . Maimonides saith, that the Hebrew word here used signifieth continuationem stationis, a sure and settled abode; such as was that of the Godhead of Christ in his manhood. "For the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us," εσκηνωσεν . The word seems to be made of this Shacan in the text.
And Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth ] A faithful city, Isaiah 1:26 . A Verona rightly so called; a place where the sincere service of the true God is set up and practised; in opposition to other cities (such as Athens was, wholly given to idolatry, Acts 17:16 , κατειδωλον ), that went a whoring after lying vanities, and so forsook their own mercies, Job 2:8 .
And the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain ] This and the former clause may safely and fitly be extended to the holy Catholic Church of the New Testament also; whereof Jerusalem and the mount Moriah, whereon the temple stood, were figures. The Rabbis themselves expect the good things here promised to be performed when their Messiah shall come, quem tantis ululatibus exposcunt.
Zec 8:4 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age.
Ver. 4. There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem ] Because the "Ancient of days, the just Lord, is in the midst thereof," Zephaniah 3:5 , and he will give every "good gift and perfect giving," James 1:17 , that is, both temporal and spiritual. The Father of lights will be to his both a sun and a shield; and no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly, Psalms 84:11 . Godliness hath the promises of both lives, 1 Timothy 4:8 . Christ is heir of all, Hebrews 1:2 , and the saints are his coheirs, Romans 8:17 . He is the "everlasting Father," and also the "Prince of peace," Isaiah 9:6 ; his children and subjects shall have both the upper and nether springs, both the blessing of the right hand (spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ Jesus), and also of the left; riches and honour, delight and pleasure, life and length of days, peace and prosperity, &c., Proverbs 3:16-17 ; Pro 8:18 ; Psa 112:2-3; Deuteronomy 28:2-6 .
And every man with his staff in his hand ] His third leg, as they call it; q.d. they shall live so long that they shall need a staff, a servant or a son (such as Scipio was to his old decrepit father) to lean upon; because the strong men, the legs, shall bow themselves, that is, bend and buckle under their burden, Ecclesiastes 12:3 . They shall not be cut off by the devouring sword of war, that slaughter-man of mankind that lays heaps upon heaps, and by chain bullets cuts its way through a heap of men at once, without respect of old or young.
Zec 8:5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.
Ver. 5. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls ] Lads and lasses (as the Hebrew seems to sound), that mind little else but play as if, with leviathan, they had been made to sport, or as those people of Tombutum, in Africa, who are said to spend their whole time in singing and dancing. But this they could not do if the times were troublesome, and the soldier at his bloody play, according to that of Abner, 2 Samuel 2:14 "Let the young men now arise and play before us," that is, thrust their swords in their fellows’ sides, 2 Samuel 2:16 .
Zec 8:6 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts.
Ver. 6. If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people ] Here the Lord graciously answereth the secret objection of these Jews’ unbelieving and misgiving hearts. It is impossible, thought they, that these promises should ever have their performance; they are sure too good to be true. This is the voice of carnal reason; it usually tells a story of impossibilities, and judgeth according to sense, looketh upon God’s Jordan (as Naaman did) with Syrian eyes. But faith can mount higher and see further; as a lark, with a little eye, getting aloft, can see that which an ox, with a bigger eye, but being below on the ground, cannot. It is the nature of faith to look upon all things seizable. I can do all things, saith she, through Christ that strengtheneth me. Is there anything too hard for the Almighty? was not that an absurd question of these men’s ancestors, "Can he prepare a table for us in the wilderness?" God can do much more than he will do; but whatsoever he willeth that he doth both in heaven and earth. And if faith have but a promise to fasten upon, she can believe God upon his bare word, without a pawn; and that both against sense in things invisible, and against reason in things incredible.
Should it also be marvellous in mine eyes ] q.d. Will ye measure me by yourselves, and make my thoughts to be as your thoughts, my ways as your ways? there is no comparison. Abraham cared not for the deadness of his own body or his wife’s, but was strong in faith, and gave God the glory of his power, Romans 4:20 . This was it indeed that God himself minded him of when he said unto him, Genesis 17:1 , I am God Almighty, walk before me and be upright: q.d. Thou wilt never do the latter unless thou believe the former.
Zec 8:7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country;
Ver. 7. Behold, I will save my people from the east ] This was in part, no doubt, literally meant to be the scattered Jews; and fulfilled also in those 500 years’ time between the captivity and Christ, though stories tell us not when and how; and shall be much more at their much desired conversion. For this is laid down for a general rule, that all evangelical promises made to the Jews, seeing they neither at first received the gospel, nor ever hitherto enjoyed that peace, plenty, and prosperity which these and such like promises do purport, cannot but aim at somewhat that is yet to come. Albeit it cannot be denied but that the great and glorious things which in the height and excellence thereof are spoken particularly to them, do in their measure and degree appertain in common to all the faithful; and so in the New Testament are ordinarily applied.
Zec 8:8 And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.
Ver. 8. And I will bring them ] And then they are sure to be brought. For who hath resisted his will? he will breathe life into those dead bones, and flesh shall cover them; he will make up those two sticks into one, and David his servant shall be king over them for ever, Ezekiel 37:24 .
And they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem ] They shall, they shall. Oh the rhetoric of God! Oh the certainty of the promises! what a monstrous sin is unbelief!
And they shall be my people, and I will be their God ] This is a short gospel; this is the sum of the covenant of grace. Brevis et longa, planeque aurea est haec clausula, as Pareus somewhere speaks of another text. This is a long, and yet a short clause; short in sound, long in sense, but golden all over.
In truth and righteousness ] I will be their God.
in truth ] That is, in an assured performance of promise.
And they shall be my people in righteouness ] That is, in obedience to my commandments. So here is the covenant renewed in a mutual stipulation.
Zec 8:9 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which [were] in the day [that] the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.
Ver. 9. Let your hands be strong ] Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us take heart of grace against all occasions of distrust and fear, 2 Corinthians 7:1 ; let us up and be doing, that the Lord may be with us; let us fear lest, such a promise being left us, yea, such a bundle of promises as are contained in the new covenant, any of you, by shrinking from the service, should seem to come short of it, Hebrews 4:1 ; or by faintly forwarding the temple work, should lose the things that he hath wrought, "but that ye receive a full reward," 2 John 1:8 "Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees," Isaiah 35:3-4 . Say to them of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not, &c. Say the same every man to himself. Encourage yourselves in the Lord your God, as David did, 1 Samuel 30:6 . Believe the prophets and ye shall prosper, 2 Chronicles 20:20 .
Do ye not hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets? ] Myself and Haggai? And should the consolation of God be small unto you? Job 15:11 ; will you not trust us whom you have already tried? and take comfort by our words now, whom you have formerly found no liars?
Zec 8:10 For before these days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast; neither [was there any] peace to him that went out or came in because of the affliction: for I set all men every one against his neighbour.
Ver. 10. For before these days ] sc. During those forty and four years, wherein they ceased from the work, minding only their own houses and managing their own affairs, their labour was unprofitable, their state unquiet through foreign foragers and homebred malcontents.
There was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast ] Nulla emoluments laborum. Both man and beast did their parts, but to little purpose.
“ Ludit qui sterili semina mandat humo ”( Ovid).
They sowed much, and brought in little; they earned money, but put it into a bottomless bag, Haggai 1:6 ; See Trapp on " Heb 1:6 " the gains did not countervail the pains, the wages the work.
Neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in ] Whether a man were within doors or without, he was in danger of the enemy (see the like 2Ch 15:5 ), he did eat the bread of his soul in the peril of his life, being wholly at the enemy’s mercy, which is mere cruelty. "For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go away?" said Saul, 1 Samuel 24:19 ; I think not, till he have his pennyworth of him; as that monster of Milan, as the bloody Papists in the massacre of Paris, as the merciless Spaniards on the harmless Indians (50,000,000 of whom they have murdered in 42 years, as Acosta, the Jesuit, testifieth), as Ptolemy Lathurus, King of Egypt, on these poor Jews, 30,000 of whom he cruelly killed, and compelled the living to feed upon the flesh of the dead; and, lastly, as the Jews themselves, of whom Tacitus takes notice, and gives them this character, that there was misericordia in promptu apud suos, sed contra omnes alios hostile odium, that they were kind enough to their own, but cruel to all others, whom they look upon as idolaters, and therefore think they may safely kill, as they did the Cyprians and Cyrenians in Trajan’s time to the number of 240,000; and as they still do Christians where they can without danger of being discovered; whom also they curse in their daily prayers with a Maledic Domine Nazaraeis; and by whom they are everywhere so contemned and hated, that they are exiled out of the world, cast out of many countries, and where they are suffered (as in Turkey) they are at every Easter in danger of death. For Biddulph telleth us that if they stir out of doors between Maundy Thursday at noon and Easter eve at night, the Christians among whom they dwell will stone them; because at that time they crucified our Saviour, derided and buffeted him.
For I set all men, every one against his neighbour ] And I set, emisi or commisi, not permisi or dimisi, as the Vulgate hath it: I set on or sent out, not I let or suffered all men. God’s holy hand hath a special stroke in the Church’s afflictions, whosoever be the instrument. Herein his all disposing Providence is not only permissive, but active. "I make peace, and create evil," that is, war and contention, Isaiah 45:7 ; which is called evil by a specialty, as including all evils.
“ Omega nostrorum Mars est, Mars Alpha malorum. ”
But is there evil in a city, and I have not done it? Amos 3:6 . He (for a punishment) sent an evil spirit of division and discord between Abimelech and the men of Shechem, Judges 9:23 , not by instilling any evil motions into their minds, but in a way of just revenge for their treachery and cruelty to Gideon’s family. This God doth, 1. By letting loose Satan upon them (that great coal kindler and mischief maker of the world) to raise jealousies, heart burnings, and discontents between them. 2. By giving them up to the lusts and corruptions of their own wicked hearts. 3. By giving occasions of enraging them more and more one against another. And here the wickedness of these factions and fallings out is wholly from their lusts that war in their members, James 4:1 , and not at all of God, though his Providence do concur, like as the stench of the dunghill riseth not from the sun, though the sunshine upon it be the occasion of it.
Every one against his neighbour ] A sad case, that common misery should not breed unity among them; that necessity had not made them lay down their private enmities; that being vexed so by the common adversary, they should yet vex and tear one another. Blows enough were not dealt by the Samaritans, Ammonites, and other malignants; but their own must add to the violence. Still Satan is thus busy, and Christians are thus malicious; that they must needs fall out by the way home, and give bloody noses, too, sometimes. St James, James 4:1 ; James 4:7 , calls upon such to "resist the devil," that is, their unruly passions of rage and revenge, wherewith the devil empestereth and embroileth their spirits; and, like your cockmasters, sets one to kill another, that at night he may feed upon both.
Zec 8:11 But now I [will] not [be] unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the LORD of hosts.
Ver. 11. But now I will not be unto the residue, &c. ] Now that the temple is well nigh perfected, and so the cause of my displeasure removed; the matter you see is already well amended, and shall be yet better; for there is a series, a concatenation of God’s mercies, like the links in a chain, every former draws on a future, if we break not the chain by our unthankfulness. The right hand of the Lord shall change all this, saith Hope, when it is at worst, Psalms 118:16 .
“ Flebile principium melior fortuna sequetur. ”
As, when it is in better case, it saith, "Return to thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee." It is well for the present, and yet it will be better hereafter. Fury is not in God; or, if at any time it seem to be, yet he will not always chide, neither will he keep his anger for ever, Psalms 103:9 . It is with God in some sort as it was with David, whose soul longed to go forth unto Absalom; for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead, 2 Samuel 13:39 . Let the Lord but see the rainbow of repentance appearing in our hearts, and he will presently be pacified; well he may wash us, but he will never drown us.
Zec 8:12 For the seed [shall be] prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these [things].
Ver. 12. For the seed shall be prosperous ] Or, full and perfect, as the Chaldee hath it; it shall be fruitful and yield a plentiful crop, such as shall every way answer the desire of the husbandman. Instead of your recent scarcity (whereof see Haggai 1:9 , with the notes) you shall abound with plenty of all things, feeding of the fat, and drinking of the sweet, and having your heart filled with food and gladness, Acts 14:17 . More particularly:
The vine shall give her fruit ] So that ye shall swim in wine.
And the ground shall give her increase ] Her full burden of the best; so that your floors shall swell, and your tables sweat with sweetest varieties.
And the heavens shall give their dew ] That womb of the morning wherein the fruits are conceived.
And I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things ] Whereas people are apt to attribute too much to means and second causes of plenty and prosperity, God assumes the honour of all to himself. Rain and fruitful seasons are his gift, Acts 14:17 . And, Hosea 2:22 , he resolveth the genealogy of grain and wine into himself: I will hear the heaven, and the heaven shall hear the earth, &c. And, both here and elsewhere he giveth us to know that the reward of religion is abundance of outward blessings; which yet are not always entailed to godliness (whatever Jesuits tell us of the Church’s prosperity and plenty, fetching her mark from the market), to the end that it may he admired for itself, and not for these transitory trappings.
Zec 8:13 And it shall come to pass, [that] as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, [but] let your hands be strong.
Ver. 13. As ye were a curse among the heathen ] The people of God’s wrath, and of his curse, Isaiah 34:5 , abhorred and accursed by all nations, Jeremiah 24:9 ; lastly, a proverb and a pattern for any fearful imprecation, Ezekiel 14:8 , as those that had the bloody weals of God’s visible vengeance on their backs, and, Cain-like, had his manifest mark upon their persons and proceedings. The Turks at this day so hate the Jews for crucifying Christ, that they use to say, in detestation of a thing, I would I might die a Jew, then; Let me be a Jew if I defraud thee, &c. Such a taunt and a curse this wretched people are still. As they curse Christ and his followers continually every day, so it comes into their heart like water, and like oil into their bones, Psalms 109:18 .
O house of Judah, and house of Israel ] i.e. Besides the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, many of the ten tribes that revolted, for religion’s sake, unto Judah were carried captive with them, and afterwards returned out of captivity also in their company. To them, therefore, as well as to the house of Judah, is made the promise. Twelve thousand of these ten tribes returning are found by computation in that summa totalis set down Ezra 2:64 , as the Jewish doctors have concluded. There are those who understand the words of the general conversion of all the Jews in the time of the gospel; and this may very well be, for aught that I see to the contrary.
So will I save you ] Lest you should say, in the language of Ashdod, It is a chance, I will do it, saith God, 1 Samuel 6:9 .
And ye shall be a blessing ] Not only a name and a praise, as Zephaniah 3:20 , but a form to be used in blessing of others; such as was that, Ruth 4:11-12 . And not altogether unlike is that prayer of David, Psalms 119:132 "Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name."
Fear not, but let your hands be strong ] Be not diffident, but diligent in well doing: in due season you shall reap, if you faint not, Galatians 6:9 . See Trapp on " Zec 8:9 " Base fear expectorates and unmans us; banish it, therefore, or ye will be betrayed by it.
Zec 8:14 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the LORD of hosts, and I repented not:
Ver. 14. As I thought to punish you ] He had promised to make them of a curse a blessing, and here he shows them the cause of this change, namely, God’s better thoughts of them, and toward them, upon their return unto him. And because they might haply think that their fathers had hard measure, he tells them that their punishment was the fruit of their provocations. And whereas they might expect that God should repent and relent toward them, he shows here that he had repented so long, that he was even weary with repenting, Jeremiah 15:6 ; and that he, therefore, was implacable because he found them incurable. Hence he resolved, as Ezekiel 24:13 , and would not be altered, Crudelem medicum intemperans aeger facit A headstrong patient makes a cruel doctor. (Mimus). Lo, thus far these Jews had found and felt God’s fingers; and that in his menaces he had been as good as his word.
Zec 8:15 So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.
Ver. 15. So again have I thought ] Sic conversus sum. This change was not in God, but in the people, to whom he is now resolved to show mercy, and that from a gracious purpose and determination, such as altereth not.
Fear ye not ] Faith quelleth and killeth distrustful fear; but awful dread breedeth it, feedeth, fostereth, and cherisheth.
Zec 8:16 These [are] the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:
Ver. 16. These are the things that ye shall do ] Heb. These are the words. God will not so do all good for his people, but that they should reciprocate and do something for him by way of thankfulness. Particularly; these are the words, or commands, that ye shall not only know, but do. They are verba vivenda non legenda; word to live by not to be read, as lessons of music must be practised, and a copy not read only, but written after.
Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour ] Let your words be few and ponderous. Lie not in jest, lest ye go to hell in earnest. Let Socrates be your friend, and Plato; but the truth much more. Rather die than lie for any cause.
Execute the judgment of truth and peace ] That is, upright judgment pronounced or delivered with a calm and quiet mind; not angry, nor partial, nor of any distempered or troubled affection; such as hatred, fear, favour, Iudicium pacis, id est, placidum et rite compositum (Calv.). All that savours of self should be strained out, and justice, justice (as Moses speaketh), that is, pure justice without mud, should run down as a river, Deuteronomy 16:20 . That magistrate hath too impotent a spirit whose services, like the dial, must be set only by the sun of self and sinister respects. He should have, as nothing to lose, so nothing to get; he should be above all price or sale, and "neither respect persons, nor receive gifts," 2 Chronicles 19:7 .
Zec 8:17 And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these [are things] that I hate, saith the LORD.
Ver. 17. And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts ] See Trapp on " Zec 7:10 " Take notice here, that as conversing with evil imaginations and inward lusts proves one to be carnal, Ephesians 2:3 , so the law is spiritual, Romans 7:14 , and takes hold of the root of bitterness, Deuteronomy 29:18 , lie it never so low and close covered. There is something in it, that men are here forbidden to imagine evil (in their hearts). This particle, in their hearts, may seem superfluous; but it holds forth, that for the most secret sins that lie couched in the bottom of the heart, in the hidden man of the heart, and never show themselves to the world, men shall be accountable: see Heb 4:12 Ecc 12:14 Jeremiah 6:19 Revelation 2:23 . The very want of good thoughts is a sin against that first and great commandment, Mark 12:30 , and concupiscence, even before it come to consent, is a sin against the last commandment, Romans 7:7 . But evil thoughts allowed and wallowed in is a fiat breach of every commandment; so vain is their plea that say, Thought is free, and do thereupon lay the reins on the neck, and run riot in vain and vile imaginations. O Jerusalem, wash thy heart from wickedness, if thou meanest to be saved, Jeremiah 4:14 . How many, alas, have we that profess large hopes of heaven, whose hearts are no better than dens of darkness, dungeons of filthiness, cages of unclean birds, brothel houses, slaughter houses, pesthouses of malicious motions, devilish deceits, atheistical, proud, covetous, malicious, and fraudulent projects, which they are continually hammering, and wherewith their wretched hearts are day and night haunted and pestered! Contrariwise, a godly man is said to have right thoughts, Proverbs 12:5 , holy imaginations, Proverbs 12:20 , and that his desires are only good, Proverbs 11:23 ; or, if worse crowd in (as they will), he rids them out again, and will not let them lodge there, Jeremiah 4:14 , he boils out that filthy scum, Ezekiel 24:6 , and purifieth himself of all pollutions of flesh and spirit, 2 Corinthians 7:1 ; he both hateth them, Psalms 119:113 , and forsaketh them, Isaiah 55:7 .
And love no false oath ] As not only he that maketh a lie is shut out of heaven, but he that loves it (though made by another), takes it up and divulgeth it, Revelation 22:15 . So not only he that taketh a false oath, but he that persuadeth another to it, or that abhorreth it not in whomsoever (for here is a meiosis, less is spoken, and more understood), is the object of God’s just hatred.
For all these are things that I hate, saith the Lord ] And as the next effect of hatred is revenge, he will not fail to punish such sinners against their own souls.
Zec 8:18 And the word of the LORD of hosts came unto me, saying,
Ver. 18. And the word ] See Trapp on " Zec 8:1 "
Zec 8:19 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth [month], and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.
Ver. 19. The fast of the fourth month ] Wherein the city was taken, 2 Kings 25:3 .
And the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh ] See Zechariah 7:3 ; Zechariah 7:5 .
And the fast of the tenth ] Wherein Jerusalem was first beleaguered, 2 Kings 25:1 . This last mentioned was first taken up, upon a like occasion, as the Emperor of Constantinople (when the city was besieged by the Turk’s army) being certainly advertised of the enemies’ purpose for a general assault shortly to be given, first commended the defence of himself and the city to the Almighty God by general fasting and prayer; and afterwards appointed every captain and commander to some certain place of the wall for defence thereof.
Shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness ] God promiseth to turn their fasting into feasting, all their sadness into gladness, all their sighing into singing, all their tears into triumphs; and so gives a short but sweet answer to their demand about fasting after a larger and most excellent preface tending to Christian practice, and making much more to their benefit and comfort than the final decision of the main question proposed by them to the prophet. Finally, for a perclose, he leaves this with them by way of injunction.
Therefore love the truth and peace ] q.d. Since your fasts are now abrogated, and the ceremonious observation thereof (the bodily exercise, the external abstinence, wherein ye placed so much holiness) abolished. Therefore love the truth, the substance of religion, the duties of piety and charity. Let go these needless ceremonies, taken up by yourselves; and though of a good intent, yet of an evil event; for you have made too much ado about them, with neglect of the one thing necessary. And now learn and labour to receive the love of the truth, that ye may be saved, 2 Thessalonians 2:10 , to speak the truth in love, Ephesians 4:15 , to do the truth, 1 John 1:6 ne dicta factis deficientibus ernbescant, lest your lives give your lips the lie. So will God say, "Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he will be your Saviour," Isaiah 63:8 . So shall there be peace and truth in your days. Should we have peace upon any terms, peace without truth, it would be but like those short interims between the Egyptian plagues. Peace we may want and have truth; yea, peace we may have to buy truth; but we may not give truth to buy peace. He purchaseth peace at too dear a rate that pays his integrity to get it. "If it be possible, as much as in you lies, have peace with all men," Romans 12:18 . But if you cannot compass it but with loss of truth and shipwreck of conscience, let it go; and ere long the fruit of righteousness shall be peace, God will make thine enemies to be at peace with thee, Isaiah 32:17 . The historian tells us, that Numa’s temple of old had this inscription, πιστεως και ειρηνης ειπον . The temple of faith and peace; but faith first, and then peace. Keep in with God, that he be not a terror to thee (as Jeremiah prays), and then seek peace with men and ensue it, 1 Peter 3:10-11 , as ever thou desirest long life, and good days, cheerful feasts, as here in the text (called good days, Est 8:17 ), as ever thou hopest to have the calendar of thy life crowned with many festivals.
Zec 8:20 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; [It shall] yet [come to pass], that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities:
Ver. 20. It shall yet come to pass that there shall come people ] The prophet cannot shut up with the former corollary; but further comforts the Jews with a promise of the conversion and conflux of the Gentiles to the Church; yea, Christ’s people shall be willing in the day of his power, Psalms 110:3 ; they are like the isles that wait for his law, Isaiah 42:4 ; they are set upon it to come for an offering to the Lord upon horses, in chariots, and in litters, Isaiah 66:20 , to make any shift rather than not come, in litters rather than not at all. The kingdom of heaven shall suffer violence, and the violent take it by force, Matthew 11:12 .
Zec 8:21 And the inhabitants of one [city] shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also.
Ver. 21. And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another ] Not only come upon them when they light on them, and they have a fit opportunity, but they shall go on purpose, one city to another, to gain them to Christ. Propriissimum opus viventis est generare sibi simile, saith the philosopher, It is the most proper work of every living creature to propagate his own kind. The divine saith the same. Grace is communicative, charity is no churl. Birds, when they come to a full heap of grain, will chirp and call in for their fellows.
Let us go speedily ] As so many heavenly cherubims, winged creatures, as the doves to their windows with weariness of flight, as counting him happiest that is first there. Many among us fail publicly and shamefully in want of care to come time enough to God’s service. It will be long enough ere such men beg David’s office of doorkeeper out of his hand; for the doorkeeper of God’s house was to be first in and last out; but these clean contrary. Mr Fox, speaking of our godly ancestors at "the beginning of the Reformation here: To see," saith he, "their travels, earnest seekings, burning zeal, readings, watchings, sweet assemblies, resort of one neighbour to another for conference and mutual confirmation, may make us now, in these our days of free profession, to blush for shame."
To pray before the Lord ] To see his face in Zion, to partake of his ordinances. What gadding is there by Popish pilgrims to Hull, Loretto, &c. Sic videmus in Italia integros pagos et oppida turmatim Lauretum confluere, ac se invicem cohortari ad visitandam et venerandam, saith a Lapide on this text. i.e. So we see whole towns and villages to flock together, and to call one upon another to visit the lady of Loretto, and to stuff her churches with vowed presents and memories; though all the thank they have for the same from God is, who required these things at your hands? Bring no more vain oblations.
And to seek the Lord of hosts ] Chald. to seek doctrine from the Lord, to be informed of the right way and means to worship, him. Praying and hearing are instanced as principal parts of God’s public worship.
I will go also ] Have after (said Latimer to Ridley going to the stake) as fast as my old legs will carry me. Caesar never said to his soldiers, Ite, but Eamus, Go ye, but Go we. The Pharisees are justly taxed for this, that they could load others with duty, but themselves would do nothing, Matthew 23:4 . Not so these good souls in the text; every of whom was as forward for himself as zealous for another. There are those who make these to be the words of the well affected in answer to the former invitation. Let us go speedily, say some citizens: Agreed, say the other, I will go also.
Zec 8:22 Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.
Ver. 22. Yea, many people and strong nations, &c. ] The most populous and potent people subdued by Christ (not by any army, nor by power, but by God’s Spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind, 2Ti 1:7 ), shall send a lamb to the Lord of the whole earth, submit to the sceptre and laws of Christ’s kingdom, yield the obedience of faith, and be proselyted to the Church, Isaiah 16:1 .
And to pray before the Lord ] Heb. To entreat his face, which they behold in his ordinances, those visible signs of his presence. Popish pilgrims, though they are used hardly, and lose much of their estates, yet satisfy themselves in this, I have that which I came for, viz. the sight of a dumb idol. What, then, should not men do or suffer to see God in his ordinances?
Zec 8:23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days [it shall come to pass], that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard [that] God [is] with you.
Ver. 23. Ten men shall take hold out of all languages ] Ten, that is, many, "out of all languages," therefore not by compact, or fraudulent convention; for they were far asunder and of diverse languages ( nam quisquo aliis barbarus, saith Calvin).
Of the nations ] For God manifested in the flesh was preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, &c., 1 Timothy 3:16 .
Shall take hold, even take hold ] As children do on their mother’s garments.
Of him that is a Jew ] Who shall not shake them off, as bastard Gentiles, worthy (even the very best of them) to have their heads bruised with the serpent, as the modern Jews say of us. "Come unto me," saith Christ. "Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved," saith Paul, Philippians 4:1 .
We will go with you ] Be of your religion; not for fear, or any other alterior motive, as those Persians, Esther 8:17 . Josephus relates of the Jews, that they were very careful how they received proselytes in Solomon’s time (because then their state flourished), but out of sound conviction, and good affection.
For we have heard ] And by hearing tasted, 1 Peter 2:3 .
That God is with you ] "Of a truth," as that plain Corinthian confesseth, 1 Corinthians 14:25 .
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Zechariah 8". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent